Men used to be the answer, but not now. Neither are they the question. They're not even the dot on the question mark.
Yet I've always thought a man was necessary, to feel warm and safe and to avoid pitying looks and pats on the arm.
Where did this silly idea come from? How can I have gone 32 years thinking men were necessary and superior?
I can trace it back to being wee. My mum and dad split up when I was four and we moved to a horrible council estate in Glasgow where there was nothing to look forward to. There was just black spongy dampness on the wallpaper and broken bottles outside Spar.
Then a taxi would appear outside and we'd fly to the window, watching as it ticked by the pavement. Please let it be him, I'd think. Then Dad would step out, come striding up the path, chapping a tune on the door and barging into the flat, scattering presents and jokes and cool, night air.
And when he left, he took all the life with him. He was always on his way somewhere: to play football, to meet someone in Shawlands, to go out dancing at Victoria's on Sauchiehall Street. He was always going somewhere, and we were always sitting still.
When he departed the flat would fall silent and the TV volume would be turned back up and things would drag on as before.
(It never occurred to me - with my hands stretched up for toys and stories - that Dad's sudden and money-scattering appearances weren't welcomed by Mum.)
That must have been when I first began associating excitement with the figure of a man. The one thing guaranteed to cut through the tedium of being penned nightly into that icy council flat was to see my wee sister bouncing up and down on the chair at the window, shouting 'Daddy's coming!'
When I got older and would meet Dad in the street, he'd give me a pound note, but when I skipped home and showed it to Mum, squealing 'guess who I met at the shops?' she take it from my hand and rip it up.
When the pound note had been reduced to minced confetti she'd scoop it into an envelope and I'd be taken to the postbox to see the puffy letter being sent back to him. I'd sigh. I had big plans for that pound note.
(It never occurred to me that perhaps Mum was raging that Dad didn't contribute to our upkeep, feeling it was enough to dispense occasional pound notes. Maybe the gesture was one of fury and pride.)
But I'd learned the wrong lesson from this: men were lavish and generous, and women were nippy and resentful.
Every Sunday, there'd be more reminders of how men are the cool, carefree ones, whilst women sap the fun and energy out of you, for it was women who forced me to go to chapel.
My sister and I would be scrubbed and cleaned and zipped into matching turquoise anoraks and then paraded up the hill to St Marks where the door would creak shut and we'd be sealed in the building for an agonising hour of droning and kneeling and crossing and mumbling.
On summer days, the torture was infinite. The Catholic weans locked in chapel whilst the Proddy weans play outside. Sunshine filtered in through the stained glass windows and was turned a sickly mauve by the yellow and purple panes. The place reeked of incense and chalky clouds of old lady talcum. Outside were glorious sounds of football and lawnmowers and ice cream chimes. Inside we itched and sweated and the only relief from the airless heat was the slap of holy water you were allowed to flick on your forehead.
When I saw Dad, he'd say that Mass was boring, and wouldn't I rather be out playing?
Struggling to be loyal to Gran, I said that if I wasn't a Catholic I'd have been sent to a different school and wouldn't have met all my pals.
'Och,' said Dad. 'You'd have met their Protestant equivalents.'
Again, the warped lesson had been learned. Women stuff you in C&A anoraks and zip you up and force you into Mass whereas men make fun of it and say you should be out having grass fights with the other weans.
So, yes, I can trace where my odd attitude to men springs from, and why I've always associated them with liberation and energy. Men are where the fun is.
But I don't think like that anymore. My two years of internet dating have presented me with a tiresome torrent of men who are nothing but over-grown - mainly bald - children.
Children are irritating at the best of times, so try cutting about with a gigantic bald one and see how you like that.
Men are no longer the answer. They don't bring presents and jokes and freedom and I'm no longer looking for any kind of revelation from them.
Instead I'd rather create the stories and liberation for myself and just get along with a nice, normal man and it seems that's maybe what I've found in The Proclaimer, although he doesn't like being told he's 'normal'.
On our second date he wasn't drinking. He knew about my inability to get on a train so he said he'd bring his car so he could drive me home. I knocked back my gin'n'cranberry whilst he sipped at a Diet Coke, and I told him again and again how normal he was. Compared to some of the freaks I've known, so normal! Compared to clowns and slaves and perverts, so normal.
He jingled the ice in his glass and smiled politely. It was then I realised that being called normal isn't exactly a compliment. In fact, it may be seen as just one shade away from dull.
Oh, but I didn't mean that! The Proclaimer just appears decent and honest. He doesn't seem plagued and tainted and sinister like the rest of them. There's a glow of goodness about him - but I'm hardly going to tell him that, am I? So I just burbled on about how nice and normal he seems, though it was obvious he wasn't exactly pleased by this 'compliment.'
We left the pub and went out to his car. I bet he has a nice, sensible normal car, I thought. A Ford Mondeo, perhaps. So when he clicked his keyring and the lights flashed on a crazy, luminous yellow vehicle, I thought I was seeing things. He bent and opened the door for me - the door to this lemon-yellow, cartoon car. It looked like something Noddy would drive.
The Proclaimer held the door and just looked at me as if to say 'normal enough for you?'
I slid into the Noddy car and we drove home. Arriving in my street, which is always jammed with cars, there was miraculously a gap in front of my flat.
'Oh, park here!' I said, pointing to the space right at my door.
'I'm not coming in,' said The Proclaimer.
I went white with horror. I had no intention of inviting him in. I simply meant stop here or pull over here. I don't know the driving lingo! Park here, whatever. It all means the same thing, and certainly doesn't imply you're getting invited into the flat. Ah, the agony! He's given me a knock back when I wasn't even knockable!
Later, making a sobering cup of tea, I wondered why he was so adamantly not coming in. What kind of man doesn't come in, if asked? Oh well, he obviously isn't keen, or perhaps I've annoyed him by declaring him to be normal and now he's gone tootling off in a sulk in his yellow Noddy car.
So I was surprised to get a text asking to see me again. I said I was free on Friday. He immediately replied to say that Friday is so far away and he can't wait that long to see me, so why not meet on Tuesday so we can discuss what to do on Friday…
So, he does like me then? He's just fussy about where he parks the Noddy car.
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